By Will Johnson
CROCKETT – When a major medical emergency arises, minutes matter. Whether it’s a stroke, a heart attack, a cut that nicks an artery or a traumatic injury, Crockett Medical Center’s (CMC) emergency room stands ready to help.
With a medical staff of highly skilled, well-trained nurses and an ER doctor available 24/7, the treatment available at the ER may very well mean the difference between life and death.
Earlier this week, The Messenger had the opportunity to visit with CMC CEO Tommy Johnson, Chief Clinical Officer Martha Adrian, RN and Infomatics/Physician Liaison Donna Curry, RN about the ER.
“We have been open for business since July 31, 2018,” Johnson said. “The ER opened the same day.”
Adrian said the ER provides “… all emergency services. We have emergency medicine, CT, X-ray, labs and several others. We are not trauma level but all of our staff are TNCC (trauma nurse critical care) certified, so we can handle trauma. We’re just not leveled.”
Curry added, “We can handle any traumas that come in. We can handle strokes, if the patient meets certain criteria and they are in a window (timeframe). We have medication to help the condition so it isn’t prolonged. We can start treatment here and get them somewhere more specialized. It’s the same thing with an acute heart attack. We can handle just about any emergency here.”
Any medical condition, Adrian further explained, can usually be handled in the ER. The patient can be stabilized for transport or they can be admitted to the hospital, she indicated.
One of the issues faced by the ER has been in recruitment, Johnson said.
“Finding true, certified ER nurses in a small population is difficult,” he said.
“It’s a specialized field so you have to get a staff that knows how to do ER medicine. It is not common so you have to recruit for it,” Adrian said.
While the nurses said they would like to have more ER staff available, Curry stressed the level of staffing is more than sufficient to provide the high quality of care patients expect.
”We have a core group with that type of knowledge, but we can always use more. We are always striving to get better,” Curry said.
One of the things that sets the CMC ER apart from free-standing ERs or urgent care clinics is that CMC always has an ER physician on site.
“All of our ER physicians are ER certified. They specialize in the emergency department and they are credentialed for that,” the chief clinical officer explained.
As the discussion continued, the need for an ER within the community was brought up.
“It pretty much cripples a community if you take a hospital and ER out of it. You are too far away from tertiary care. It only takes minutes on some of these things before someone dies. Heart attacks, strokes – you don’t have 45 to 60 minutes to get the patient to where they need to be. You need treatment on board now to get them to a higher level of care,” Adrian explained.
An example was provided of a person who had a heart attack. It was determined that an air ambulance would be unable to get the person anywhere in enough time to save their life. They were transported to CMC where the ER doctors and nurses were able to stabilize the patient before sending him to a cardiac care facility.
“That’s where the difference of having an ER here or not having one comes into play,” Johnson elaborated. “Having that level of physicians and that level of staffing – that’s what makes the difference. It’s having the knowledge, the abilities and the resources. They work with challenged resources out here compared to what Houston or Dallas has to work with. We do the same things they do. We see the same type of patients but we have less resources. As a result, the physicians and nurses are actually better. The only thing is we don’t have the depth of back-up that they do.”
The CEO explained many of the physicians who work in the ER come from a pool of doctors known as Concord Medical Group. Ideally, he said, CMC would like to have all the physicians working under the CMC umbrella as opposed to having contract medical personnel.
In the last quarter of 2019, over 2,300 patients were seen in the ER and over the course of the entire year, an average of 700 to 800 patients per quarter were seen.
“That number is actually climbing. We have added another physician from noon until midnight because the volume is growing,” Johnson said.
Asked if there was anything they would like Houston County residents to know, Curry replied, “We’re here 24/7 with qualified staff and qualified physicians. If you have a medical need, we are here for you. We can take care of it.”
Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.